One day, I asked my mother to be my reinforcement so I could shop for some clothing for our ever-growing children at a local mall. As my reinforcement, she could watch at least one kid; I could watch the other and the third could be strapped in a stroller. It was the perfect plan, after all, James was only 3, Jessica was 2 and Julia was 6 months old. How hard could this be?
Off we went to the mall and for the first half and hour the plan worked as a charm. Then, it happened. As I shuffled through the endless sales racks of a department store, the sound of silence simultaneously startled and frightened me. I had already learned the hard way that silence in a house with young children should enact fear in my heart. Just a few weeks earlier, I was pleasantly surprised that my children were playing so nicely in their room while the baby was asleep. I was proud of myself for having raised such obedient children and impressed with the silence of the house. Some little voice inside of my head told me that I was fooling myself, so I went to the children’s room to prove the voice wrong. Instead I found my two precious children feeding the baby M&M’s in her crib with chocolate all over the white furniture and sheets. Of course she was quiet; she was getting her first chocolate fix!
My children trained me well, silence meant danger. So, I called out in panic for my mother who was chasing down our very active son from between the clothes hanging on the rack. To him, the clothes were his personal hiding place and knocking down a few dozen of them at a time and watching grandma pick them up. This was just part of his fun for the day. Next, I checked the stroller to find Julia who was quietly sleeping, probably still coming down from her chocolate high a few weeks ago. (By the way, I never did tell our Pediatrician that story, so do not blow it for me; he still thinks I am a good parent!) Then I called for Jessica. No response. I called again. No response. And again and again and with each attempt my voice got louder and more frightened, still no response. The doom of silence had settled into my heart once again.
Before I knew it, a very nervous sales associate appeared next to me (most likely because I was screaming too loudly) and asked if she could help. I’m not sure what I said but within minutes there were security guards on walky-talkies asking me for a picture. I’m crying and totally useless at this point while still screaming Jessica’s name. Five minutes later, the store was in lock down mode and the mall security was notified. They even began procedures to lock down the entire mall!
In a weird impulse, I began running from one department to another aimlessly lifting all of the clothes from the circular racks to see if I could find Jessica. The sales associate and security guards, desperate to do something and hoping for the best joined me in the task. A few moments later one of the security guards lifted some clothes from the rack, calling my name. He asked me if the little girl hiding in the racks was Jessica. Thank God, it was. After holding her and crying for about 10 minutes, I asked her why she didn’t come to me when I called her. She said, “I was afraid.” “What were you afraid of?” I asked. “I did something bad. I was afraid.”
What are you hiding from? Do you find yourself busy without knowing how you got there? Do you have a new best friend almost every year? Are you afraid to remember your childhood? Can you forgive others but not yourself? Are you active in church but have not grown spiritually in years? Would you call yourself beautiful? Are you insecure in almost every environment but no one knows it?
We all hide from time to time because we are afraid. Yet in those very moments of hiding our full potential is waiting to be discovered.